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Hawks welcome abalone poaching kingpin Morne Blignaut's sentence

Sep 20, 2018
Hawks welcome abalone poaching kingpin Morne Blignaut's sentence

The Hawks in the Eastern Cape welcomed the sentence handed down to convicted abalone poaching kingpin, Morne Blignaut (48), by the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday.

Blignaut was sentenced to 20-years direct imprisonment after pleading guilty to two counts of racketeering and one count for operating a fishing establishment without a permit.

It was in June 2016 when Blignaut was arrested in Port Elizabeth by the Serious Organised Crime Investigation unit of the Hawks and charged for racketeering together with his alleged accomplices Frederick Nance (22), William Nance (55), Petrus Smith (34), Jacobus Naumann (37), Marshelle Blignaut (42).

"From 2014 to 2016, the Hawks conducted a project driven investigation into this Abalone syndicate," described Hawks spokesperson, Captain Anelisa Feni.

"Blignaut and his accomplices were the subject of this project driven investigation dubbed ‘Little Rhino’.

"Investigations established that from the July 2013 to August 2014, the syndicate made a total of R30 million from their criminal activities."

Frederick and William Nance, Smith, Naumann and Marshelle Blignaut pleaded guilty before the Port Elizabeth High Court on the 22nd of August 2018.

They are expected to be sentenced by the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday.

The Eastern Cape Acting Provincial Head for the Directorate For Priority Crime Investigation, Brigadier Gopz Govender, welcomed the sentence.

“We wish to inform the broader community that Abalone plundering will not be taken lightly and this sentence should inform would be poachers that they are likely to face a similar imprisonment term after we arrest them,” he said.

The arrests and sentences do not seem to deter many other poachers, with millions of Rands worth of pacoched abalone seized this year.

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